The last time I wrote about my transition from “Truffle #50” to “I Think It’s Going to Be Awfully White,” I had just returned from visiting Rob’s family with my new super short pixie cut. Things were going pretty well.
Two months later, things are still progressing nicely but there sure has been some learning and insight along the way. I’ve been taking notes. Seriously. I have about a page and a half of them. I’m just that sort of dedicated blogger.
I’ve had two pixie cuts now. I’m pretty sure I’m done with them even though there have been some AMAZING benefits to having Boy Hair. Like, with very little hair to play with, I am done “doing my hair” in mere seconds.
When we were in the Caribbean a few weeks ago, it was incredible to get out of the ocean, dry my head with a towel, run my fingers through my hair to make sure I didn’t look like Alfalfa, and that’s it. No gel, no mirror, DONE. Boys have it so easy! No wonder they are mystified how we women folk spend so much time getting ready.
|Wash and wear hair!|
I’m still not doing much with my short hair, but I am looking forward to it growing out a bit. I don’t feel like my hair has much of a style at the moment. I’m not sure what style I’m aiming for, since my hair’s texture has already changed and I’m anticipating it will continue to surprise me as it gets longer.
For now, I’m thrilled with how soft my salt and pepper is and I’m happy to see it still has a fair amount of wave. In my coloring days, all my white, color-resistant hair pointed straight out like I had stuck my finger in a socket. With no color, I was a little concerned I might suddenly end up with the uber straight hair I once coveted in the ‘70s. So far, no Dorothy Hamill Wedge in my future. A collective sigh of relief.
I can tell by the hairs that land on my shirt or in the bathroom sink that I am not yet completely done with my transition. Although I think the biggest shock is over, there is still more white to come. Some light brown, almost blonde tips remain on a number of hair strands around my head. As I continue to get trims, things will likely get a bit whiter. I’m ready for it. I think. There’s still some stuff to learn, though.
As the dark frame around my face has become much lighter, it’s become clear that all the color rules I once knew for clothes and make-up need to be revamped. I used to wear green shirts with full knowledge that my hazel eyes would pop out of my head. Now, not so much. Oddly, blues and pewters are working better than they used to, as are strong pastels like turquoise and coral. I haven’t tried yellows or browns yet; my gut says those colors might be leaving my closet soon.
I have also noticed that I look better in solid or very minimal prints. With so much swirl of white and gray and black going on on my head – the head that used to be a rather uniform Truffley color -- busy prints on my shirts combined with a swarm of grayscale make me feel like a jumbled, chaotic mess of color and pattern. Clearly, I will be going wardrobe shopping in the near future. Ugh.
|That's about the boldest print I can wear at the moment.|
In other news, CORAL DINING ROOM!
"Love Boat" fans will understand
I’m not really much of a make-up person. Several years ago I actually had to ask a younger friend to teach me how to use eyeliner (I rightly suspected that the techniques I honed in the tubular ‘80s were no longer relevant or wise). So it’s been a surprise that I’ve recently found myself playing with darker lipsticks, darker eye shadows, and that I have ever so lightly put my toe in the very trendy water of Eye Brow Obsession.
My goal with all three cosmetic playgrounds is to try to add some contrast back. What used to be an olive-ish face with a dark brown frame is now sort of an unrestricted blend of pale. I’ll be stopping by a make-up counter soonish, as I’m still sort of clueless about what I’m doing. I also suspect new glasses frames are in my future. But I’m waiting to find out if I finally need bifocals first. Ah, 49.
|I was surprised how much I liked my Hipster Glasses|
with my silver hair. I think slightly longer hair
will work better with them.
With all these changes, it’s been quite amusing that I am apparently unrecognizable. Early on after The Shocking Pixie, people at church stared right at me, confused who the visitor was. Other people have wondered who that woman looking so cozy with Rob is and if Toni knows about her. A couple of weeks ago, I ran into a friend’s ex-husband at a restaurant. Given how their marriage ended…and that he was on a date…I braced myself for a brief, awkward, uncomfortable conversation. I looked at him, smiled, and realized by the blank look on his face that he had no idea who the gray haired woman smiling at him was. It was quite lovely and such a relief. Hallelujah for being boldly incognito!
Overall I have received tons of support and encouragement for my new look. Just in the past few weeks, a number of friends have spontaneously told me … some even going out of their way to seek me out to share … how much they like my gray hair. A few women have said, “If I knew my hair would look like yours, I would have stopped coloring years ago.” That is a huge compliment right there. Perhaps the biggest compliment, though, is that four friends have now decided to join me in my Silverdom. Four friends including Patti, my hair stylist. I was blown away by the white streak in her hair the last time I saw her. I clearly have her sincere support.
Truly, that is part of why I decided to blog about this small but enormous change – to hopefully share some of the fears and triumphs and mysteries and joys of this surprisingly revealing path. And to perhaps encourage other women to consider going through the evolution themselves. A woman’s hair color shouldn’t really be that big of a deal. And it typically isn’t. Unless that color is gray. Then it’s a HUGE THING. Because women aren’t supposed to have gray hair. Unless they are really old. Thanks, society and beauty industry “standards.”
And that brings us to the not-so-awesome experiences of Going Gray.
I’ve had a few friends painfully live by the rule “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.” Those silences have been awkward.
More awkward, though, was the older woman who hadn’t seen me in several months. At first she didn’t recognize me with my silver hair. Then, barely taking a breath, she launched into an unprompted dissertation about how she liked my skin’s contrast with my dark hair much better, she couldn't imagine why I wanted to dye my hair gray (??), and that maybe I would decide on a whim to go back to dark brown since I looked much better that way. Oh, and I look younger with gray hair. Yes, gray hair not the dark brown. I was sort of left silently blinking at her, trying to process all that she was saying while at the same time concluding that apparently 81 is the age at which we get to speak our minds with abandon.
Perhaps the biggest stumble so far was about 6 weeks ago. I was in Walgreens, unaware that it was the first Tuesday of the month. I was at the register and had my head down as I was rifling through my purse for my wallet. As I poked around, I heard the older, silver-haired cashier ask, “And do you qualify for our Senior Discount today?”
I didn’t answer at first because surely she wasn’t talking to me. But then I realized that she was staring at the top of my head. My very gray head. I looked up and smiled and said, “I don’t think so. I’m 49?”
She focused on me in bewilderment, likely wondering how I could be younger than her, and then said, “Oh, I guess not.”
Naturally, I Googled when I got home and discovered that the first Tuesday of every month Walgreens offers a 20% discount for customers 55 and older. 55 and older?!? She thought I was 55?!? But wait. 20%?!?
Yeah, next time I’m totally saying yes.
|I took this picture in the car in the Walgreens parking lot.|
Then to make myself feel better, I ran it through that
fun "How Old Do I Look" app.
I quite like the app and its confidence-saving "Gray Hair Don't Care" algorithm.
Despite the negatives, I’m already finding there’s a remarkable freedom in no longer chasing the hair color of youth. There’s relief in not having to factor in a Color Date when anticipating large social events. There’s liberation in being outside on a windy day and not worrying if untamed roots are showing. There’s a cool sense of rebellion of admitting to the world that as a woman you are, in fact, getting older. Because, you know, everybody is.
But I’ve also disliked being the center of attention with my new hair color. If my hair were longer and I hadn’t gone the pixie route, this change would have been much more gradual. Instead, since the most shocking part of my transition happened in only four months, there are still lots of friends and family who haven’t seen me and don’t even know I’ve made this change. So I’m reluctantly learning to brace myself for stares and fumbled comments and excitement and questions…in short, attention…when different gatherings occur. Any introvert knows social gatherings can be enough work; attention at social gatherings is downright agonizing.
And so at those gatherings, with that attention, I am also learning to accept the positive and bat away the negative. Early on, I found my confidence and my resolve about my “embracing my age” decision rising on the encouragement and falling on the silence (or unabashed criticisms) of other people. I sincerely hated that. I hated feeling so whimmed and flakey. I feel much more confident now, but I sense there is still more growth to be had…both on my head and in my spirit.
|Taken today without a black and white setting. I'm rather|